Tag Archive: superman


Man of Steel

Released: June 2013
Certificate: 12A
Director: Zack Snyder


The origin story everyone knows has just been retold. This wasn’t done in the tender fulfilling way the trailer suggested it would be, instead, we’re assaulted by incomprehensible action from the very beginning.

It appears as though the creators were concerned about recreating the dire Superman Returns and attempted to make this film as exciting as possible. There are no peaks and troughs, this venture begins with the destruction of a planet and takes it from there.

General Zod (Michael Shannon) suffers from a similar problem with his temper. He begins the film (on Krypton) boiling with an incandescent rage, travels several light-years presumably quietly discussing his plans with his comrades, then arrives at earth more furious than ever. It’s a wonder his minions show him such devotion as he’s surely quite difficult to live with.

Since almost everyone has superpowers, no one can take a punch. Each blow launches the punchee hundreds of feet into something destructible from which they later emerge unharmed. At no stage do the characters realise this and punching continues to be the attack method of choice throughout.

I was surprised to learn that one can get bored of seeing someone thrown into a building which then either explodes or slowly collapses. It’s never been tested before, but my limit appears to be eight.

Nor do characters develop as you might hope. Zod is angry, Clark is boring, Lois is inquisitive but keeps Clark’s secret for some reason, Clark’s mum is sad, Clark’s dad is cautious/heroic/dead. The Daily Planet staff work hard and forget to evacuate.

Possibly the most tortured and interesting character is in fact Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) who continuously warns his son against doing things which could reveal his powers – even if it means innocent people have to die. This dynamic looks to have potential until the poor man is killed while rescuing a dog from a tornado.

Martha must feel pretty guilty about sending him back for that dog…every time she looks into it’s little face…

Remarkably, with all the money thrown at this film there only seem to be a handful of people around when anything happens. Did the writers think we’d be confused by any more than that?

Examples: The FBI/army guy is in the arctic, then in Kansas driving a truck having a knife-fight, then flying a plane in Metropolis having a knife-fight.  Lois (Amy Adams) is summoned to Zod’s ship with Superman for no discernible reason, (unless it’s for the crime of wearing high-heels in a desert!) later she races faster-than-a-speeding-bullet to see Superman defeat Zod despite the duo covering hundreds of miles and destroying countless skyscrapers in their epic showdown. This is a battle only the main staff at The Daily Planet emerge to witness – in a city of millions.

The single most important role in humanity’s defence of earth is that of Token Scientist played by Richard Schiff. He immediately understands all of the alien technology as soon as he sees it. He is also omnipresent.

It would be easy to say ‘Henry Cavill is more a Man of Wood, than The Man of Steel‘ but in truth he wasn’t given anything to say. It’s astonishing that Christopher Nolan produced and contributed to the story as this could not be further from his Batman trilogy and I can’t see how they could combine the two characters for a future Justice League film without changes being made.

These are all minor details, but the single greatest insult to the viewing public – and yes I will take it as an insult – is the continuous, emotive music played from beginning to end. Imagine if the frazzled, discerning blockbuster audience were left to figure out how sympathetic they should be feeling or how excited they were supposed to be? It would end in disaster. The theme (good though it is) is played through every conversation, explosion and building collapse creating a fourth wall of noise which distracts and alienates the viewer. It’s papering over irreparable emotional cracks.

Snyder hasn’t learned anything from the new generation of superhero films. It’s got to be dark or funny at the very least, but this is all a bland, cacophonous haze with no hint of humour or depth. You cannot describe these as throwaway action films anymore, the ones that stand out will always be those where the effects are incidental and writing is key.

Once again, the problem with superhero franchises is that you know there will be a Man Of Steel II out in two years time. He’s not going to die in this one, nor will Lois Lane, so where’s the tension? They needed to create a compelling character and make it about them, keep Superman as far away from the plot as possible.



Click HERE to go to Floptajoe’s Top 10 Superhero Films


Floptajoe’s Top 10 Superhero Films


I realised recently that I’ve seen almost every superhero film ever created. Not unique by any means, but enough of a pretext for an indulgent SKY/E4 style countdown of things I like.

Why should anyone be interested in my opinion? No reason whatsoever.

The problem with superhero films is that the protagonist always survives and it’s a challenge to create any real tension. Bond and Die Hard films suffer from this also, so a stand-out film needs to either subvert the genre or  include a compelling human character and put them in mortal danger.

Looking to court controversy at every turn, I was disappointed to find my list was dominated by Batman films. None of them made No.1 spot though. Special mention for Watchmen which had excellent ideas used by other, better films.

The inclusion of two animated movies is the only real break from the obvious, beginning with:

10. Megamind

Was surprised to have enjoyed this film as much as I did. Will Ferrell’s voice is annoying for the first 10 mins, but the story quickly departs from the norm and explores something new.

9. X-Men: First Class

The first three X-Men films were almost unwatchable, too many dull characters with no screen time to flesh them out. Amazing powers utilized unimaginatively. First Class took a look at other films around at the time and went darker.

8. Batman Begins

An excellent film let down by a 20 minute finale watching steam travel through a pipe towards the ‘Central Hub’.

7. Thor

Quite high on the list, one of the more complicated origin stories put together with a good plot setting up Avengers Assemble nicely. Kenneth Branagh directs Anthony Hopkins as Odin, that alone gets it into the top 10.

6. Batman

Tim Burton’s gothic take on Batman ages remarkably well. Not sure about the Prince soundtrack.

5. The Incredibles

There are a lot people out there who don’t seem to care for this film, presumably because it’s animated. It’s original take on the public’s reaction to superheroes combines with an outstanding realisation of their capabilities to make it one of the very best out there. If anything, the fact that it’s animated meant they could accomplish a lot more.

4. Iron Man

It’s funny, without being annoying. It looks great and the story is excellent even if the finale is a bit underwhelming. Iron Man 2 was dreadful.

3. The Dark Knight

This is probably the most gripping of all the films on this list. The Joker is capable of anything and the viewer is on edge throughout. Still not sure why Batman had to take the blame for Dent’s crimes, they should have blamed Joker. And why would ‘The Dent Act’ be repealed if he turned out he had committed crimes ?

2. The Dark Knight Rises

I hated this film when I first saw it. Thought it entirely unbelievable, the characters don’t react as you’d expect them to and everyone kept pausing to make speeches. On second viewing, I realised it’s a superhero film even though it acts as if it isn’t. It should be enjoyed for what it is, great dramatic cinema!

1. Avengers Assemble

Avengers Assemble is exactly what I was waiting for, it’s what X-Men should have been and better. With the groundwork done through the previous Marvel films, it could focus on bringing together all the characters in a backs-to-the-wall struggle to save earth. Joss Whedon does an extraordinary job managing the personalities with wit and sensitivity before unleashing them in an epic clash on the streets of New York City. It beats Batman to top place because the child in me wants to see people thrown 20 yards into a wall by a punch.

This film is just that little bit more super.



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